An expected move, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that the Phillies have declined their half of Placido Polanco’s $5.5 million mutual option for 2013.
Polanco will receive a $1 million buyout and will become a free agent. This was a pretty easy call for the Fightins, as the 37-year-old was limited to just 90 games this season due to back, knee and finger injuries and batted just .257/.302/.327 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a career-low .629 OPS in 328 plate appearances. After signing a three-year, $18 million deal during his last stint as a free agent, Polanco will almost certainly have to settle for a one-year deal with a modest base salary this time around. His days as a starting player are likely over.
As of now, the Phillies intend to keep Chase Utley at second base next season, so Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis are the most likely in-house alternatives at third base. Neither option inspires much confidence, so Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. figures to explore the free agent and trade markets.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.